Sunday Lifestyle

An abundance mentality

MANO-A-MANO - Adel Tamano -

Unfortunately, many Filipinos have a scarcity mentality. Meaning that they see life as a zero-sum game: that you have to fight over scarce resources, eliminate your opponents, and that the only way to gain ground is by causing the loss of another. This is why we often snipe at each other, backstab, backbite, and feel stressed competing for the few crumbs that the world has to offer. A scarcity mentality leaves us feeling drained, stressed out, and negative.

Let me offer an alternative: we should have an abundance mentality. We should see the world as having not just a few morsels of resources that we have to fight over but instead having potential that is so vast as to be nearly limitless. Adopting an abundance mentality allows us to take a favorable view of ourselves, others, and the world in general.

To flesh it out, one of the aspects of an abundance mentality is that it believes that wealth and good fortune are intrinsically good. This seems like a no-brainer but given the state of poverty in the Philippines, the vast inequality between the haves and the have-nots, it is easy for those who either have wealth or aspire to acquire financial or monetary gain and other resources to feel guilty and even believe that they don’t deserve success and material comfort. Maybe that is a by-product of the romanticizing of poverty, which some faiths may appear to have done. But if you ask a person who is poor and/or unemployed, you will discover that they do not see their state as blessed or romantic. They too aspire for a life that is economically comfortable. Moreover, my own take on Islamic and Christian doctrines on wealth is that God wants mankind to prosper. Simply, a God who loves his creation would not wish them to suffer in poverty and would instead want only their happiness and prosperity. This theme of prosperity and of God providing for all our needs is a common thread in Islam and Christianity. The prophets are routinely taken from the basest and lowest of situations and are later, because of their faith and good works, raised to levels of abundance.

So another aspect of having an abundance mentality is the belief, at least in my take on it, that all blessings, wealth, opportunities, etc., are sourced from the Creator. The Quran often talks about God advising man to seek his bounty throughout the world. Why is this divine belief or faith element important? It is not only important but critical because of the reality that for many people, their current situations will undermine their having an abundance mentality. If your business is failing, or if you’re laid off from work, or if you can’t pay off your debts, then it will be very difficult to believe that the world is full of resources, that life is good, and that God wants us to succeed. In fact, most often, people in economic trouble will believe just the opposite and cling to the scarcity mentality. This is when having faith comes into play. Basically, faith is the ability to believe in things that are yet unseen or undemonstrated. That is why belief in God — and in the afterlife — is an act of faith because obviously people do not get to physically “face” or “see” God. So during financially difficult situations, this is actually the most important time to have that abundance mentality because you will need that positivity and motivation to push you through and survive.

There is also an aspect of this mentality that makes the person who believes in abundance a gracious person and this is the element of gratefulness. Since believing that all our good opportunities, wealth, finances, etc. come from God, then we should take not only the attitude of gratefulness but also that of graciousness. What this means is that if God will share with us, then we should also have the grace to share our blessings with others. This is why in Islam, a portion of a Muslim’s wealth “must” be shared — not merely “might be” or “hopefully will be” shared — as charity or zakat. I believe this is also the reason why some Christians are mandated to give tithes. And here’s the great part: there is a natural law, something that I see in my life as being as basic as gravity, that shows that when we share our wealth and blessings that it comes back to us ten-fold. Just very recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to help one of my family members financially and because I had given that little bit of monetary support, a job opportunity that I had been praying for materialized, literally the day after. And a few months before that, I was worried about having enough cash on hand to pay off some of my bills, when another relative also asked for some financial help. I didn’t have much money at the time but I was able to give a little bit to that person. Two days after, a reimbursement from one of my jobs was deposited in my account. I had already forgotten about that amount and, surprisingly, the reimbursement was just enough to pay off those bills. This happens to me all the time and I’m sure if you will analyze your own experience, then you will see this natural law of abundance at work.

As a caveat, one must bear in mind that having an abundance mentality shouldn’t make people lazy and just expect God to drop manna from heaven. No, if you read the Bible and the Quran, you’ll see that the prophets had to overcome adversity, work hard, and share their blessings with their communities before God showered them with his favor and abundance. Actually, truly having an abundance mentality is a powerful motivator for work — you will believe that your work will bear fruit and so you strive, knowing that if you use your talents and opportunities, then good things will come your way. While God wants abundance, wealth, good fortune, and blessings for us, he also knows that we have to work hard for it and deserve it. God is merciful but he is also just and will always favor those who strive and are deserving.

Lastly, I want to end by stressing the point that true abundance is shared. In the miracle of the feeding of the multitudes, Jesus was able to multiply the loaves of bread and fish only when he shared it with others. This to me demonstrated the true purpose of whatever wealth or opportunity is given to us: that it will be made all the more full, prosperous and abundant when we decide to use it to help our families and our communities.











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